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DATE=2/17/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SHUTTLE (L) NUMBER=2-259284 BYLINE=DAVID MCALARY DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The U-S space agency, NASA, has told the astronauts aboard the shuttle Endeavour they have saved enough fuel to complete their mission to map the Earth with radar. V-O-A Science Correspondent David McAlary reports. TEXT: A series of small fuel saving steps devised by ground controllers has given Endeavour enough reserve to finish mapping Earth's terrain by radar. The orbiter's fuel consumption increased because it had to fire its jet thrusters more often than planned to keep the 60-meter radar mast steady. The mast's own stabilizing thruster, which emits nitrogen, had failed because of a valve problem. This lead to fears the mission might have to end one day early. The shuttle's fuel economy innovations over the last three days have included loosening the requirements that the mast remain so steady, changing the way waste water is dumped, and eliminating an engine firing to correct Endeavour's altitude. At NASA mission control in Houston, Texas, astronaut Chris Hadfield told Endeavour commander Kevin Kregel [pron. KREE-gul] that the maneuvers to cut the use of propellant - or "prop," as he calls it - means the radar can keep firing through Sunday as originally planned. /// HADFIELD - KREGEL ACT /// [HADFIELD:] So by doing that we now have enough "prop" for taking data right through nine days, nine hours as we had hoped. [KREGEL:] That's great news, Chris, because as we can see, they're getting just some fantastic data on this mission and we certainly want to give the customer everything that he asked for. So you guys deserve a pat on the back and we appreciate all the hard work. /// END ACT /// Even the failed thruster on the radar mast is now cooperating. Mission control communicator Hadfield says the nitrogen escape valve is working again. /// HADFIELD ACT /// As you know, it's open now. It's been a little inconsistent as to how the gas is coming out, but for the last while, we've actually been seeing a further benefit and we're saving [propellant] through that. So everything is headed the right way and we're all pleased. /// END ACT /// The beacons the radar is bouncing off Earth will give researchers enough data to create the world's most detailed three-dimensional topographical map. The goal is to cover nearly 80 per cent of the land surface, about 123-million square kilometers. Endeavour is to return to Earth Tuesday. (SIGNED) NEB/DEM/JP 17-Feb-2000 13:49 PM EDT (17-Feb-2000 1849 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .